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Slate of early-season injures benefited West Greene underclassmen

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 7:04 p.m.

The injury bug did not do West Greene any favors early last season, and the losses on the field easily could be correlated to the losses on the bench.

In the first game of the season, West Greene lost starting running back/linebacker Curtis Jones and were hit again in the second game when back-up running back Donnie White went down.

In the second game, the offensive line lost guard Cody Jacobs for the season with a concussion.

Coach John Coss said he hopes the 0-9 overall record and 0-8 mark in the Class A Tri-County South Conference will be an aberration.

“I didn't know what to expect when those guys went down,” he said. “(The team) did respond and played well for a few games in a row. When we go into the meat of the schedule, we didn't do well, but we hung in there.”

Senior wide receiver Matt Johnston is expected to maintain his leadership role and help second-year starting quarterback Dalton Wildman take a step forward.

In 2011, the Wildman-to-Johnston combination showed flashes of what could be. Wildman threw for 575 yards, with 270 of those yards going in Johnston's direction.

“I think Dalton was under a bit of pressure early on in some of those games, but he seemed to settle in,” Coss said. “I think he'll take a few steps forward this year and have a good year.”

The team's strength will be its offensive line, which features a slew of players who saw the field last year. Trevin Bedilion (tackle), Beau Jackson (center), Bray Jackson (guard), Will VanNorman (G) and Damon Green (T) will start up front.

“Those guys up front are going to have to play well and stay healthy for us to improve,” Coss said. “If one of them goes down, we'll be in trouble because I think our depth is going to be an issue.”

West Greene was shut out in four games, including the last three last season, but will look to notch the first “W” of the year when it meets Bentworth in Week 1. Bentworth went 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the Class A Black Hills Conference last season.

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